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Rodney P aka ‘Da Riddim Killa’ and probably more notably, the Godfather of British Hip Hop, was one part of UK rap group, London Posse. They were the first rap group from London to use their natural, native accents in their recorded music, ever. That was 1986. In 2015, ‘Da Riddim Killa’, who has West Indian heritage, is sort after for his energetic live sets and a distinct style which merges the Reggae sound into Hip Hop. In 2013 he hosted a 10 part series for SBTV called ‘Skooled By’, which featured artists like Black Twang and aimed to teach young audiences about the art of rap and emceeing. It focussed on UK Hip Hop history and the importance of knowledge in the art of Hip Hop. P says in his interview with Grindin, “Right now one of my favorite groups is “RU1” who recently released an CD collaboration with Logic of The Peoples Army. They are very political and social minded and have a wicked stage show. Energy like that keeps from our young people keep me positive about the future”. This summer the UK Hip Hop legend will be in Australasia for the festival season, beginning in Perth on the 19th of February, extending to Splore in New Zealand and finishing in Canberra on March 1st.
In the lead up to festival season what do you most look forward to?
I love the whole festival vibe. Cool music in cool locations with cool people. Hopefully the sun is out the beer is cold and the party is a wild one!!!
What are you most pumped by when thinking about the current UK rap scene?
I think the UK scene has a lot of new energy being put into it at the moment. A lot of new artist and producers who are building on the foundation people like me helped create. They’re not just chasing commercial success so that allows them to be creative and that’s exciting to me.
What do you do when you’re not doing music?
I hustle everyday to feed my babies. Thankfully music has opened many avenues for me and I try not to miss an opportunity.
What do you do to chill out?
I’m pretty boring these days and send most of my free time at home with the fam. I may smoke a little weed, drink a little liquor but generally I keep it pretty tame on a day off.
How did you get involved in Skooled By?
Jamal Edwards and me had spoken about ways to enlighten the younger audience on some of the foundation artist. I give credit to Jamal and understand why he and SBTV have been so successful. He really wants to educate as well as entertain his audience and I respect that.
Describe the selection process behind picking those 10 artists….
Lol. Mostly people I could find who were up for it. A lot of people I asked let me down for various reasons and a lot of the old skool guys from my generation just ain’t really active anymore. There are still a few artists we recorded and interviewed that never got shown. I did MC Duke, MCM from Cave Man, Pretty Boy G & Stevie B from City Limits and MC Remedy from the Cookie Crew amongst others.
What do you feel are some important values to hold when calling yourself an emcee?
Lyrics, Personality, Passion. To ‘Move the Crowd’ people need to feel you.
What can festival goers from down under (Aus/NZ) expect from your shows this summer?
Lyrics, Personality, Passion. I intend to ‘Move the Crowd”
In hindsight what, to you, was the best thing London Posse did for UK rap?
I think we set a trend that helped empower UK artists to use their own voices and tell their own stories.
What are some of the main factors that separates UK Rap from the rest of the world?
For me Reggae music has always been a big part of the UK Hip Hop sound. But also that inner city housing estate angst that people like Skinnyman and Chester P bring to the table. The UK is a genuine musical melting pot and I think that is reflected in the sounds you hear from across the board.
Maintaining a career in rap music, for as long as you have, has there ever been concerns about staying relevant as an artists? And if so what were they and how did you overcome them?
I’ve never thought about staying relevant just about being “ME” and making music “I LIKE”. I’m not trying to be mutton dressed up as lamb, I’m a grown man. I have a youthful spirit (Lol) but I’m grown and that should be understood from the music or else I’m lying to you and I try not to tell lies.
I know in the past you’ve recorded programs in Johannesburg about the aftermath of apartheid.. I was wondering if you had personal feelings on the current race issues going on in the news? (Post the Michael Brown shooting and then Eric Garner being strangled and I guess, as well, in rap music and hip hop currently…Maybe content in songs might start to reflect that there’s still real issues that society needs to address, rather than predominantly featuring cars, money etc).
I would like to think so but I’m not convinced it will. There have always been artist who stand up and represent something more then money, women, cars etc but those voices have been getting swallowed up by the nonsense, dumbed down ignorant rap music the gate keepers promote as Hip Hop these days. If radio programmers don’t care, DJ’s are gutless, artist are easily led and the audience don’t demand better I fear we’ll be stuck with more of the same.
Do you have any concerns about the next generation of UK rappers selling out and forgetting to represent real issues in their music? Or do you feel UK artists are focussed on their community?
No not really. I do see a lot of people chasing chart positions but that’s OK I’m a fan of good pop music and there are some amazingly creative pop artists in all forms of music. What I don’t like are liars who claim to represent something but then bend over for a cheque.
In the UK there are many commercial glory chasing ‘urban acts’ but there are also many artists trying to push different agendas. Right now one of my favorite groups is “RU1” who recently released an CD collaboration with Logic of The Peoples Army. They are very political and social minded and have a wicked stage show. Energy like that keeps from our young people keep me positive about the future.
What are you listening to at the moment?
At this very moment I’m listening to D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” album. Loving the grooves but struggling to work out what the fuck he’s saying.
What’s your definition of Grindin?
Interview by Aleyna Martinez
Thursday 19th February – Mojos, Perth
Friday 20th February – Supporting OC @ Civic Underground, Sydney
Saturday 21st February – Splore Festival, New Zealand
Friday 27th February – The Espy, Melbourne
Sunday 1st March – Transit Bar, Canberra